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Press Release- Embassy of Belarus : 24 June 2020

June 22, 2020

 

Belarus registers 59,023 coronavirus cases, 351 deaths as of Jun 22, 2020

 

MINSK, Jun 22 – PrimePress. Belarus registered 59,023 confirmed coronavirus cases as of June 22, 2020, 351people died, the Ministry of Health of Belarus reports on its official Telegram channel.

 

37,923 patients have recovered and have been discharged from hospitals.

 

As reported, the number of registered coronavirus cases in Belarus reached 58,505 a day before; 346 patients died.

 

The Ministry of Health reports 876,600 tests for the coronavirus infection as of June 22, 2020. End

 

 

Belarus proposes creating digital transport corridors and improve infrastructure as part of Belt and Road Initiative

 

MINSK, Jun 22 – PrimePress. Belarus proposes to create digital transport corridors and improve infrastructure as part of the Belt and Road Initiative, Belarusian Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Makey said during the international online conference held on June 18.

 

“Firstly, we need to shape digital transport corridors, especially between China and Europe. Implementation of the modern satellite navigation seals allows to eliminate excessive customs and other procedures and to shorten the time of goods delivery by 4-5 days. In Belarus we have very much succeeded in promoting the seals technology,” Makey said.

 

“Secondly, we should abolish the authorisation system in international road transport. That would serve as additional stimulus for the development of transport and logistics activities. Thirdly, our infrastructures should be more interlinked. We need to further develop near-border stations, motor and railways, bridges, and multi-modal transport hubs. Interrelated infrastructure is a key pillar for the development through cooperation,” he said.

 

“Belarus has already made a significant input in the infrastructural development of the Initiative what makes us feel especially proud. Five years ago with our Chinese partners we started from the scratch the “Great Stone” hi-tech park project which became “The Pearl of the Silk road”, as the Chairman Xi Jinping has named it. In 2019 the “Great Stone” Park was ranked by the World Federation of Free and Special Economic Zones as the fastest growing park of its kind in the world with the total amount of investments of 1.2 billion US dollars,” said Makey.

 

The Great Stone Park is located in the area of ​​the Minsk National International Airport in the area of ​​112.5 sq. km. The special preferential legal regime is granted to the Park until 2062. Its residents mainly focus on electronics, biomedicine, fine chemistry and mechanical engineering. The declared investment for residents is $5 million (at least $500,000 for a research project). The land in the Park can be privatized. The Park numbers 57 resident companies of 15 countries with a total declared investment of over $1 billion. End

 

 

Belarus raises retirement pensions by 5.2% July 1, 2020 – Labour Ministry

 

MINSK, Jun 22 – PrimePress. Labour pensions in Belarus will increase by 5.2% month on month from July 1, 2020, says the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of Belarus, commenting on presidential ordinance No.232 of June 20, 2020 posted on the National Legal Internet Portal June 22.

 

“Retirement pensions will be recalculated by adjusting the real income of a pensioner, based on the average monthly salary used during the previous recalculation of pensions with its size raised by 6%,” the ministry says.

 

The average age pension will reach Br470.6 in July 2020 ($198.1 at the rate of the National Bank of Belarus). July pensions of over 2.4 million retirees will be recalculated.

 

Belarus will allocate Br13.4 billion ($5.64 billion) for paying pensions in 2020, including Br335 million ($141 million) in the rise under ordinance No.232.

 

The amounts of bonuses, increases and additional payments to pensions and social pensions will remain unchanged in July. They increased by 3.5% in February and by 2.9% in May in proportion to the average subsistence wage per capita. The next increase in payments is planned for August.

 

Retirement pensions include age pensions, pensions for length of service, disability and loss of a breadwinner. End (Br2.3757/$1)

 

 

NBB lowers refinancing rate by 0.25 pp Jul 1, 2020 to 7.75% per annum

 

MINSK, Jun 22 – PrimePress. The National Bank of Belarus (NBB) will lower the refinancing rate by 0.25 percentage points on July 1, 2020 to 7.75% per annum; overnight loan and deposit rates – by 0.25 pp to 8.75% per annum and 6.75% per annum, respectively. The decision was made following the meeting on monetary policy held on June 22, the National Bank reports.

 

“Inflation is slowing faster than expected. In May 2020, consumer prices grew by 4.9% in annual terms against 5.4% in April 2020. The annual core inflation slowed to 3.9% (4.5% in April 2020),” reads the statement.

 

The restraining effect of disinflation factors is more pronounced than predicted. The inflationary processes in the countries that are Belarus’ trade partners are slowing down more rapidly. Therefore, foreign central banks are lowering their key rates.

 

Maintaining of moderate monetary conditions allows maintaining an acceptable level of price and financial stability,” the NBB says.

 

As reported, at the meeting on measures to support the real sector of the economy by the banking system held on June 19, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko demanded that the National Bank soften its monetary policy, ensure continued growth in lending to the economy and reduce the borrowing costs. He also instructed NBB Chairman of the Board Pavel Kallaur to lower the refinancing rate by the end of June.

 

Last time, the National Bank lowered the refinancing rate on May 20, 2020 by 0.75 percentage points to 8% per annum. Earlier, the refinancing rate was reduced on February 19, 2020 by 0.25 pp to 8.75% per annum, on November 20, 2019 by 0.5 pp to 9% per annum, on August 14, 2019 by 0.5 pp to 9.5% per annum, on June 27, 2018 by 0.5 pp to 10% per annum, and on February 14, 2018 by 0.5 pp to 10.5% per annum. In 2017, the National Bank lowered the refinancing rate eight times by 7 percentage points in total to 11% per annum. End

 

 

Interim administration to run Belgazprombank until new board is formed – Yermakova

 

MINSK, Jun 22 – PrimePress. The interim administration will manage Belgazprombank OJSC until a new Board of Directors is formed, head of the interim administration Nadezhda Yermakova said on June 22.

 

As reported, the interim administration was appointed to Belgazprombank on June 15, 2020 by resolution No.192 of the National Bank of Belarus of June 14, 2020. The Financial Investigations Department of the State Control Committee of Belarus searched the bank’s office on June 11 in the criminal case of tax evasion and detained 20 persons, including, according to some sources, two deputy chairs of the board. Primary shareholders (Russian Gazprom and Gazprombank) called the actions of the National Bank and Belarus’ law enforcement illegal and refused to cooperate with the interim administration. For two decades, Belgazprombank was headed by Viktor Babariko, who runs for president in the election scheduled for August 9. Babariko was detained on June 18. He said that no complaints had been filed against the bank and related companies. He believes the actions of the authorities are politically motivated.

 

Yermakova said that Belgazprombank’s financial standing was stable, its assets and liabilities are in line with the required indicators. She said the interim administration was appointed to “ensure stable functioning” of the bank, since only three members from the previous composition of the board (Deputy Chairs Alexander Sotnikov and Irina Potapova and COO Tatiana Avramenko) stay in office.

 

According to Yermakova, Belgazprombank has no problems with liquidity “thanks to the intervention of the National Bank of Belarus and the national banking system.”

 

Belgazprombank OJSC was established in 1990 as an authorized bank of Gazprom Group in Belarus. Russian Gazprom PJSC and Gazprombank JSC own 49.66% stake in Belgazprombank; Gazprom Transgaz Belarus – 0.49%; the Republic of Belarus represented by the Ministry of Energy of Belarus – 0.18%. Belgazprombank was assigned to the systemic significance Group I. End

 

 

Monday forex session: ruble up 0.04% against dollar to Br2.3748/$1

 

MINSK, Jun 22 – PrimePress. Following the bidding at the single forex session of the Belarusian Currency and Stock Exchange (BCSE) in the format of a continuous two-way auction, the Belarusian ruble stood at Br2.3748/$1 to the dollar on Jun 22, up 0.04% on the previous day of trading, says the BCSE official report.

 

Following the bidding at the single forex session on Monday, the ruble stood at Br2.6615/€1 to the euro, up 0.15%; at Br3.4201/RUB100 to the Russian ruble, up 0.04%.

 

As previously reported, the National Bank of Belarus (NBB) on June 1, 2015 stopped the practice of fixing the exchange rate of the Belarusian ruble to the basket of foreign currencies on a day-to-day basis and switched over to FX trading on the Belarusian Currency and Stock Exchange (BCSE) in the format of a continuous two-way auction.

 

The parties taking part in continuous two-way auctions at the BCSE are free to make bids and offers during the entire auction period, however deals will be made if the FX trading system bridges bids with relevant offers.

 

The weighted average rate of the US dollar, the euro and the Russian ruble shall be the National Bank’s official exchange rate of the relevant currency for the day that follows the day of trading.

 

At the moment, the exchange rate of the Belarusian ruble is pegged to the basket of foreign currencies, with the share of the Russian ruble standing at 50%, the US dollar – 30%, the euro – 20%. End

 

 

Russia extends deadline for Belarus’ NPP construction loan repayment by two years, sets fixed rate of 3.3% per annum

 

MINSK, Jun 22 – PrimePress. Russia extends the deadline for the repayment of the loan for the construction of the Belarusian nuclear power plant (Astravyets District, Grodno Oblast) for two years until the end of 2022, and sets the fixed loan rate at 3.3% per annum (Russian government ordinance N0.1640-r of June 19, 2020 officially published on June 22, which approved the draft protocol on amending the intergovernmental agreement of November 25, 2011 on Russia’s export loan for the construction of the Belarusian NPP).

 

The start date for Belarus to repay the principal debt on the loan is also postponed to April 1, 2023 from April 1, 2021.

 

The Russian government instructed the Ministry of Finance to negotiate with Belarus new terms of the loan and sign a protocol.

 

As reported, the Russian government lent Belarus $10 billion for the construction of the NPP, which covers 90% of the project cost. The credit line was opened until 2035. Repayment of the loan was supposed to begin six months after the NPP launch, but no later than April 1, 2021 in 30 equal shares every six months. 50% of the amount was to be charged at a rate of 5.23% per annum. The remaining 50% was interest at the LIBOR rate for six-month deposits in US dollars plus margin of 1.83% per annum.

 

As of April 1, 2020, Belarus utilized $4.33 billion. According to Rosatom, the projected cost will not exceed $6 billion.

 

Belarus’ first nuclear power plant in Ostrovets (a town in the Grodno Region also referred to as Astravyets) will have two units with a combined capacity of up to 2,400 megawatts, which are slated to be launched in 2019 and 2020, respectively. The Belarusian nuclear station’s design stems from the AES-2006 design developed by the St Petersburg-based institute Atomenergoproject, which is also the general contractor of the Belarusian project. End

 

 

Belarus Energy Ministry proposes creation of domestic wholesale electricity market – draft ordinance

 

MINSK, Jun 22 – PrimePress. The Ministry of Energy of Belarus has prepared a draft presidential ordinance on fostering competition in the electric power industry, which, among other things, provides for the creation of a domestic wholesale electric energy market in Belarus. The draft has been put up for public discussion at the legal forum of Belarus.

 

The goal is to regulate sales of electric energy, its transmission and distribution, and operational dispatch management of the electric power industry.

 

The ministry proposes to entitle owners of isolated generating plants (1 MW or over in capacity) to sell electricity generated in excess of the volumes needed to provide energy for their own consumption to legal entities (except public sector entities) and individual entrepreneurs within one oblast.

 

The limiter for the installed electric capacity of isolated generating plants is set at 25 MW or over because of the staged development of the competitive domestic electricity commodity market and Belarus’ international obligations. The creation of domestic wholesale electricity market is envisaged along with the launch of the common electricity market of the Eurasian Economic Union. The composition of electricity producers is to be determined based on the installed electric capacity of 25 MW of the generating plants.

 

As of May 1, 2020, Belarus numbered nine isolated generating plants with a capacity of 25 MW or over. End

 

 

Belarus reduces Russian crude import by 43.5% in Jan-Apr 2020 to $518.689m

 

MINSK, Jun 22 – PrimePress. Belarus reduced the import of Russian crude oil in January-April 2020 by 43.5% year on year to $518.689 million, the National Statistics Committee of Belarus (Belstat) reports.

 

The physical volume of imported oil decreased in Jan-Apr 2020 by 46.3% yoy to 3.216 million tonnes.

 

Belstat reported the import of 200,000 tonnes of Norwegian oil in Jan-Apr 2020. Belarus did not import oil from Norway in Jan-Apr 2019. The average price of oil imported to Belarus in Jan-Apr 2020 was down 38.3% yoy to $147 per tonne.

 

As reported, in January 2020, Belarus purchased 538 tonnes of oil from Kazakhstan worth $195,300 at $370 per tonne. Belarus did not buy oil from Kazakhstan in January 2019.

 

Belarus and the Russian Federation agreed in December 2019 on the supply of 24 million tonnes of oil in 2020. However, due to price disagreements in Jan-Mar 2020, Belarus did not enter into long-term contracts with Russian oil companies.

 

Belarus reduced the import of Russian oil in 2019 by 3.5% yoy to $6.58 billion; in physical terms – by 1.4% to 17.998 million tonnes. The average price of Russian oil for Belarus stood at $365.64 per tonne in 2019, down 2.2% from 2018. End

 

 

Russian companies to supply 5.778m tonnes of oil to Belarus in Q3

 

MINSK, Jun 22 – PrimePress. Russian companies plan to deliver 5.778 million tonnes of oil to Belarus in the third quarter of 2020: Rosneft – 2.5 million tonnes, Lukoil – 923,000, Surgutneftegas – 847,000, Gazprom Neft – 435,000, Tatneft – 385,000, Safmar – 290,000, Bashneft – 213,000, and Slavneft – 185,000 tonnes, says a source familiar with the supply schedule.

 

Rosneft will supply 1.242 million tonnes of oil to Naftan OJSC (Novopolotsk, Vitebsk Oblast) and 1.287 million tonnes to the Mozyr Oil Refinery OJSC. Lukoil and Gazprom Neft will deliver their entire amounts to the Mozyr Oil Refinery, and Surgutneftegas and Tatneft will supply oil to Naftan.

 

Intergovernmental agreements provide for annual duty-free oil supplies from Russia to Belarus in the amount of 24 million tonnes. However, both refineries have only been utilized half of their capacities since early 2020, as Belarus and Russia failed to achieve long-term contracts due to price disagreements.

 

Companies of Safmar Group began oil supplies to Belarus in 1Q20. In March, Russian and Belarusian Prime Ministers Mikhail Mishustin and Sergey Rumas discussed the full resumption of supplies. After that, on April 6, Transneft announced the beginning of supplies to Belarus in accordance with the route assignments issued in April. Transneft reported in early June that it increased oil supplies to Belarus through the Druzhba pipeline in May 2020 by 10.8% year on year to 1.13 million tonnes. End

 

 

Belarus’ oil product export down 34.2% in Jan-Apr 2020 to 1.808m tonnes

 

MINSK, Jun 22 – PrimePress. Belarus reduced the export of oil products in January-April 2020 by 34.2% year on year to 1.808 million tonnes, the National Statistics Committee of Belarus (Belstat) reports.

 

In value terms, the export decreased in Jan-Apr 2020 by 38.3% yoy to $706.675 million.

 

The decrease in revenues was primarily due to the decline in the physical volumes of oil products export, as Belarus had no long-term contracts with traditional Russian oil suppliers in January-March 2020.

 

As reported, Belarus reduced the export of oil products in 2019 by 11.7% year on year to 10.5 million tonnes. In monetary terms, the export of oil products decreased 19.7% to $5.2 billion. The decrease in foreign exchange receipts was primarily due a decrease in the physical volume of exported oil products caused by the supply of substandard Russian oil to Belarus, scheduled repairs at the Belarusian oil refineries, and lower prices of oil products. End

 

 

Belarus’ truck export down 48.2% in Jan-Apr 2020 to $194.346m

 

MINSK, Jun 22 – PrimePress. Belarus reduced proceeds from the truck export by 48.2% year on year in Jan-Apr 2020 to $194.346 million, Belstat said in a statistical report.

 

In real terms, Belarus’ truck exports decreased by 5.5% year on year in Jan-Apr 2020 to 1,608 vehicles, including exports to Russia – 1,136 vehicles (down 2.9% yr on yr) worth $126.391 million (down 55.6%).

 

The export of off-road dump trucks reduced in Jan-Apr 2020 by 62% yoy to 124 vehicles, by 68.2% in monetary terms to $86.152 million. Russia accounted for 54 dump trucks (down 74.6%) worth $33.678 million (down 82.8%).

 

The export of tractors and truck tractors increased in Jan-Apr 2020 by 23.6% year on year to 16,284 vehicles. In monetary terms, the export increased by 2.6% to $173.467 million. Supplies to Russia totalled 11,537 vehicles (up 49.2% year on year) worth $99.934 million (up 19.5%).

 

The export of passenger cars increased in Jan-Apr 2020 by 140% year on year to 9,955 vehicles. In monetary terms, the export grew by 29.5% to $55.564 million. Supplies to Russia totalled 9,918 vehicles (up 150%) worth $53.712 million (up 71%).

 

The export of vehicles with ten or more passenger seats in Jan-Apr 2020 stood at 355 vehicles (up 8.2% year on year) worth $39.318 million (up 41.5%). Supplies to Russia totalled 310 vehicles (up 56%) worth $31.782 million (up 99%). End

 

 

Belarus’ export of cheese, cottage cheese up 9.4% in Jan-Apr 2020 to 84,555 tonnes

 

MINSK, Jun 22 – PrimePress. Belarus increased the export of cheese and cottage cheese in January-April 2020 by 9.4% year on year to 84,555 tonnes, says the National Statistics Committee of Belarus (Belstat).

 

The export of cheese and cottage cheese increased in Jan-Apr 2020 in monetary terms by 13.2% to $344.546 million. Russia accounted for 79,486 tonnes (up 8.9% yoy) worth $323,233 million (up 13%).

 

The export of condensed and dried milk and cream decreased in Jan-Apr 2020 by 6.5% to 58,199 tonnes; in monetary terms – up 2.8% to $136.415 million. Supplies to Russia increased 15.2% to 37,851 tonnes worth $85.412 million (up 18.9%).

 

The export of butter decreased in Jan-Apr 2020 by 2.3% to 26,351 tonnes in physical terms and by 7.5% to $129.719 million in monetary terms. Russia accounted for 24,354 tonnes (up 15.9%) worth $119.69 million (up 8.1%).

 

The export of non-condensed milk and cream increased in Jan-Apr 2020 by 7.3% yoy to 83,942 tonnes. In monetary terms, the export increased 19.9% to $67.231 million. Russia was supplied with 79,649 tonnes (up 6.5%) worth $64.589 million (up 19.3%).

 

The export of buttermilk, yogurt and kefir grew by 3.6% yoy in Jan-Apr 2020 to 43,552 tonnes. In monetary terms, the export increased 5.2% to $62.04 million. Russia received 41,623 tonnes (up 1%) worth $59.152 million (up 2.3%). End

 

 

Belarus’ export of fresh and chilled beef up 2% in Jan-Apr 2020 to $101.655m

 

MINSK, Jun 22 – PrimePress. Belarus increased the export of fresh and chilled beef in January-April 2020 by 2% year on year to $101.655 million, says the National Statistics Committee of Belarus (Belstat).

 

In physical terms, the export increased in Jan-Apr 2020 by 1.4% to 28,670 tonnes. Supplies to Russia amounted to 16,433 tonnes (down 36.6% yoy) worth $62.31 million (down 33.1%).

 

The export of meat and edible offal of poultry in Jan-Apr 2020 totalled 63,781 tonnes (up 21.8%) worth $99.618 million (up 22.9%). Russia accounted for 45,142 tonnes (up 6.6%) worth $64.006 million (up 3.7%).

 

The export of frozen beef in Jan-Apr 2020 amounted to 19,129 tonnes (up 35.6% yoy) worth $68.055 million (up 40.6%). Supplies to Russia totalled 13,214 tonnes (up 12.4%) worth $48.061 million (up 16.9%).

 

Exports of sausages and similar meat products in physical terms decreased in Jan-Apr 2020 by 7.4% to 9,332 tonnes; in monetary terms – down 10.7% to $26.745 million. Russia received 7,731 tonnes (down 11.4%) worth $21.682 million (down 14.9%). End

 

 

Belarus’ sugar export up 21.7% in Jan-Apr 2020 to 144,100 tonnes

 

MINSK, Jun 22 – PrimePress. Belarus increased the sugar export in January-April 2020 by 21.7% year on year to 144,100 tonnes, the National Statistics Committee of Belarus (Belstat) reports.

 

In monetary terms, the export decreased in Jan-Apr 2020 by 22.1% to $42.231 million.

 

Belarus supplied 126,100 tonnes of sugar to the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) (up 6.5% yoy) worth $36.634 million (down 32.4%). Russia accounted for 70,374 tonnes (down 25.6%) worth $20.388 million (down 34.6%), Kazakhstan – 39,115 tonnes (up 210%) worth $11.295 million (up 97%).

 

Belarus exported sugar in Jan-Apr 2020 at an average price of $293 per tonne, down 36% yoy. The price for the CIS averaged $290 per tonne (down 36.5%), countries outside the CIS – $310 per tonne (down 49.6%). End

 

 

NBB’s currency rates as of Jun 23, 2020

 

MINSK, Jun 22 – PrimePress. The National Bank of Belarus (NBB) set on Jun 22, 2020 the following exchange rates of the Belarusian ruble (Br) against foreign currencies for Jun 23, 2020.

 

  Currency   Br
1 AUSTRALIAN DOLLAR AUD 1.6335
1 BULGARIAN LEV BGN 1.3615
100 UKRANIAN HRYVNA UAH 8.8994
10 DANISH KRONE DKK 3.5718
1 U.S. DOLLAR USD 2.3748
1 EURO EUR 2.6615
10 POLISH ZŁOTY PLN 5.9883
10,0000 IRANIAN RIAL IRR 5.6543
100 ICELAND KRONA ISK 1.7225
100 JAPANESE YEN JPY 2.2212
1 CANADIAN DOLLAR CAD 1.7496
10 CHINESE YUAN CNY 3.3564
1 KUWAITI DINAR KWD 7.7141
10 Moldovan Leu MDL 1.3703
1 New Zealand Dollar NZD 1.5320
10 NORWEGIAN KRONE NOK 2.4742
100 RUSSIAN RUBLE RUB 3.4201
1 SDR (Special Drawing Rights) XDR 3.2710
1 SINGAPORE DOLLAR SGD 1.7023
100 KIRGHIZ SOM KGS 3.1690
1,000 KAZAKH TENGE KZT 5.8935
10 TURKISH LIRAS TRY 3.4628
1 BRITISH POUND STERLING GBP 2.9450
100 CZECH KORUNA CZK 9.9895
10 SWEDISH KRONA SEK 2.5229
1 SWISS FRANK CHF 2.4985

 

 

June 19, 2020

 

Belarus registers 57,333 coronavirus cases as of Jun 19, 2020, 337 dead

 

MINSK, Jun 19 – PrimePress. Belarus registered 57,333 coronavirus cases as of June 19, 2020, 337 people died, the Health Ministry of Belarus reports on its official Telegram channel.

 

35,275 recovered patients have been discharged from hospitals.

 

Yesterday, the ministry reported 56,657 registered coronavirus cases and 331 coronavirus-related deaths in Belarus.

 

The Health Ministry says over 821,800 tests for the coronavirus infection have been conducted in Belarus as of June 19. End

 

 

Lukashenko orders Belarus’ central bank to cut key rate by late June

 

MINSK, Jun 19 – PrimePress. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has ordered the National Bank of Belarus (NBB) to reduce the refinancing rate by the end of June 2020. Lukashenko voiced the instruction to cut the key rate at a meeting with the government to discuss support measures the banking system could provide for the real economy sector.

 

As reported by Lukashenko’s press-service, the president emphasized the importance of sustainable growth of credit financing of the economy. Lukashenko pointed out that the prime minister and the NBB chief are responsible for GDP growth, the growth of people’s incomes, and price regulation.

 

“Starting today, the chairman of the National Bank will be the main aide to the prime minister in terms of wage payment and the performance of enterprises,” said Lukashenko. “Also pay attention to the refinancing rate. All countries are actively reducing it in a bid to revive their economies. The consumer price index is within the social and economic development forecast, this is why we should work harder to make bank loans cheaper. I will be waiting for the government and the National Bank to take relevant decisions without delay. Do it till the end of June,” said Lukashenko.

 

He said: “Over the last five years we have been pursuing a rigorous monetary and foreign exchange policy. We have accumulated certain gold and foreign exchange reserves and budget leftovers. We have always known these were set aside for a rainy day. I am not saying that day has come. This is a problem because we don’t know what will happen to the global economy, on which we (and other countries) depend so much. Everything is globalized, everything is related. It is difficult to understand whether today is a rainy day or will get even rainier just like in other countries.”

 

Lukashenko said he guarantees that “current difficulties” will be resolved. “But starting next year we have to grow as fast as the world’s average”.

 

As previously reported, the NBB last reduced its key rate on May 20, 2020 by 0.75 percentage points to 8% per annum. Prior to that, on Feb 19, 2020 – the key rate was reduced by 0.25 percentage points to 8.75% per annum.

 

In May 2020, Belarus reported 0.1% deflation, while inflation in January-May totalled 3.2%. Belarus’s inflation in January 2020 stood at 0.9%, 1% in February, 0.9% in March and 0.6% in April. The official inflation forecast for 2020 is 5% or less, although the National Bank has already allowed its growth to 6%. End

 

 

Lukashenko wants banks to improve credit terms for Belarus’ industry flagships

 

MINSK, Jun 19 – PrimePress. Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko is interested in improving credit conditions for the country’s large enterprises. This follows from Lukashenko’s speech at the June 19 meeting with the government to discuss support measures the banking system could provide for the real economy sector.

 

As reported by the president’s press-service, Lukashenko urged to evaluate the operation of enterprises and how banks support them with loans.

 

Lukashenko said: “Most of all, I am concerned about the operation of enterprises and their credit support on the part of banks, particularly support for large, systemic organizations that employ a lot of people and that have been affected by the coronavirus.”

 

In his words, the terms of new loans are getting worse – the interest rates are being raised. Excessive requirements are set, banks are reluctant to restructure old debts, even as a temporary respite till the end of the year. “They are probably afraid of losing their hefty bonuses. Once again I warn you, Pavel Vladimirovich [Kallaur]: forget about your bonuses. Not you personally but the commercial banks I’ve told you to keep an eye on should forget about them. No bonuses. There are no poor people there. Particularly this year,” said Lukashenko.

 

He informed that “in March, April, and May certain enterprises complained that banks would reduce relending terms (once a loan is repaid, the enterprise was unable to borrow even as much as the previous loan).”

 

 “I don’t know how things are but I can presume looking at these bourgeois in Belgazprombank. You may not have seen it but they moved millions out of the country and now nobody can explain who, where, and why transferred the money. Law enforcers have already found out where. You didn’t see it. But you cannot help enterprises to get new loans because you have your own standards to maintain,” Lukashenko said with reference to Chairman of the Board of the National Bank of Belarus (NBB) Pavel Kallaur.

 

Lukashenko made a few comments about reports by certain mass media about the transfer of accounts of state-owned enterprises from daughter enterprises of Russian banks.

 

Lukashenko said: “Certain provocateurs launched a story in mass media, which goes as far as to suggest the daughter enterprises of Russian banks in Belarus will fall apart. They accuse the government of transferring accounts of state enterprises and so on. Let’s talk about facts.”

 

“On the one hand, for instance, internet mass media condemn the public sector of every mortal sin every day: losses, debts, low salaries. They claim it is unprofitable to work with the public sector. But is it not a smart business move for the state as the main owner to transfer accounts to, let’s say, Belagroprombank? You have to offer better terms to counter that. And focus on matters of financing instead of financing political campaigns as we can see.”

 

As previously reported, Babariko and his son Eduard, who heads his father’s election campaign headquarters, were detained and taken to the SCC Financial Investigations Department in the morning of June 18 for questioning. Their homes were searched. Babariko previously emphasized that according to the law there can be no claims against the bank and its related companies, and the actions of the authorities are a political frame-up.

 

Chairman of the State Control Committee (SCC) of Belarus Ivan Tertel told reporters on June 18 that Babariko was detained as a suspect in a criminal case. According to Tertel, The SCC Financial Investigations Department (FID) has initiated a number of criminal cases under Article 243 (large-scale tax evasion), Article 235 (legalization of criminal funds), Article 210 (large-scale theft), Article 209 (fraud), as well as under Article 430 (bribery) and Article 431 (bribe giving). They have detained about 20 people who directly participated in illegal activities, including Babariko. “Babariko was detained in connection with the fact that he was the direct organizer and leader of the illegal activity, tried to influence the testimony of witnesses, made attempts to hide the traces of the crimes committed and just recently withdrew a large amount of money from the accounts under his control”, said Tertel.

 

Belgazprombank was established in 1990 and is the authorized bank of the Gazprom Group in Belarus. Russia’s Gazprom and Gazprombank each hold a 49.66% stake in Belgazprombank, Gazprom Transgaz Belarus holds a 0.49% share, and 0.18% is held by Belarus’ Ministry of Energy. Belgazprombank belongs to Tier I Group.

 

At the end of May 2020, Belarusian state-owned enterprises received letters from their parent companies and patron state concern with a demand to transfer their accounts from private banks with Russian investments to state-owned banks. Evidently, by doing so the authorities had hoped to sort out future liquidity problems with state banks with the help of real sector companies. End

 

 

Belarus dismisses IMF rapid financing option, rejects quarantine

 

MINSK, Jun 19 – PrimePress. Belarus would not meet the demand by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to introduce “quarantine measures, isolation, a curfew” for the sake of receiving a rapid financing credit in the amount of $940 million. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko made a statement to this effect at the June 19 meeting with the government to discuss support measures the banking system could provide for the real economy sector.

 

As previously reported, the government and the National Bank of Belarus turned to the IMF in March 2020 for financial support to mitigate the impacts of the global economic crisis and the coronavirus pandemic. The IMF Rapid Financing Instrument is designed to provide financial assistance to the IMF members to support government policies when emergency funding is required. Based on the access terms, Belarus can obtain $900 million in equivalent, says the National Bank of Belarus.

 

“What are our partners’ requirements? It was announced that they can provide Belarus with $940 million in so-called rapid financing. How are things here?” the head of state inquired.

 

At the same time, he stressed that additional conditions which do not apply to the financial part are unacceptable for the country. “We hear the demands, for example, to model our coronavirus response on that of Italy. I do not want to see the Italian situation to repeat in Belarus. We have our own country and our own situation,” the president said.

 

Lukashenko claims that the World Bank has showed interest in Belarus’ coronavirus response practices. “They are ready to fund us ten times more than it offered initially as a token of commendation for our efficient fight against this virus. The World Bank has even asked the Healthcare Ministry to share the experience. Meanwhile, the IMF continues to demand from us quarantine measures, isolation, a curfew. This is nonsense. We will not dance to anyone’s tune,” said Lukashenko.

 

As previously reported, on June 1, 2020, the WB allocated €90 million in a financial support package to help Belarus take timely and effective measures of response to the COVID-19 pandemic by strengthening the national health system. On June 16 Lukashenko announced the World Bank would provide another $300 million for the possibility of using Belarus’ COVID-19 response practices.

 

Commenting on Lukashenko’s statement, World Bank Country Manager for Belarus Alex Kremer told reporters that the bank could provide additional financing for Belarus, provided the country follows physical distancing recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO): postpone mass events, reduce physical presence in workplaces and educational institutions, and reduce the number of non-binding movements. End

 

 

Belarus, Russia sign intergovernmental agreement on mutual recognition of visas

 

MINSK, Jun 19 – PrimePress. Belarus and Russia have concluded an intergovernmental agreement on mutual recognition of visas and other issues related to the entry of foreign citizens and stateless persons into the territory of the states, which are parties to the agreement on the creation of the Union State.

 

The agreement was signed on June 19 by Foreign Ministers of Belarus and Russia Vladimir Makey and Sergey Lavrov in Minsk. End

 

 

Minsk ready to review national action plan based on results of Astravyets stress-tests

 

MINSK, Jun 19 – PrimePress. Minsk says it is ready to review its national action plan drawn up based on the results of stress tests at the Belarusian nuclear power plant (BelNPP, Astravyets, Grodno Oblast).

 

Following a summit of heads of state and heads of government of the countries participating in the European Union’s Eastern Partnership Initiative, Belarusian Prime Minister Roman Golovchenko said Minsk is ready to review its national action plan based on the results of the NNP’s stress-tests.

 

“We are ready for constructive cooperation with the European Union in this ear. Belarus has nothing to hide. In this context, we are committed to all documents in the area of nuclear safety. We informed our European partners that we are in principle ready to review the national action plan based on the nuclear facility’s stress-tests,” said Golovchenko.

 

In the Eastern Partnership it is important to promote the use of renewable energy and technologies that imply low emissions, such as electric transport, he said. “In this context, the forthcoming launch of the Belarusian nuclear power plant will increase the use of clean electricity and give a strong impetus to the transition to a low-carbon economy, which in turn will lead to achieving the objectives of the Paris Climate Agreement.”

 

Belarus’ first nuclear power plant in Ostrovets (a town in the Grodno Region also referred to as Astravyets) will have two units with a combined capacity of up to 2,400 megawatts. The launch of the first power unit is due in July 2020, second unit – 2021.

 

The Belarusian nuclear station’s design stems from the AES-2006 design developed by the St Petersburg-based institute Atomenergoproject, which is also the general contractor of the Belarusian project. End

 

 

Transport infrastructure: Belarus defines priorities of participation in Eastern Partnership Initiative

 

MINSK, Jun 19 – PrimePress. The European Union’s Eastern Partnership Initiative is considered by Belarus mainly from the point of view of cooperation in the development of infrastructure, the expansion of the trans-European transport network, the removal of bottlenecks at the border with the European Union, and diversification of routes for delivering energy resources. 

 

Belarusian Prime Minister Roman Golovchenko made a statement to this effect following a summit of heads of state and heads of government of the countries participating in the European Union’s Eastern Partnership Initiative. End

 

 

Belarusian banks ready to provide additional credit facilities for real sector – National Bank chief

 

MINSK, Jun 19 – PrimePress. Belarusian banks have no problems with current liquidity and are ready to provide additional credit facilities to the real sector. Chairman of the National Bank of Belarus Pavel Kallaur made a statement to this effect following President Lukashenko’s meeting with the government to discuss support measures the banking system could provide for the real economy sector.

 

“The National Bank supports the liquidity of the banking system. We have no problems with the current liquidity. We are ready to open additional credit lines if necessary,” BelTA reports citing Kallaur as saying.

 

According to him, in the current difficult conditions, the banking system supports the real sector by reducing its profitability, among other things. “Banks’ profit has decreased by 15% year on year. The share of non-performing loans is on the rise. But it will not exceed 7% by the end of the year (the limit is 10%). So we are within the limits of what is allowed, for fear of disturbing the stability of the banking system,” said Kallaur.

Banks will continue supporting individuals and corporations by prolonging their loans, said Kallaur. In his words, about 7,000 applications for loan prolongation have been submitted, including some 4,000 from natural persons.

 

In his words, more often than not Belarusian enterprises contact banks with requests to restructure their debts or to borrow money to pay salaries. A special group led by Deputy Head of the Belarus President Administration Dmitri Krutoy has been set up to assist with the resolution of these issues. “Problems are certainly encountered because some companies do not have a very stable financial footing. But upon the authorization of the head of state government guarantees to the tune of Br1.2 billion have been appropriated. Problems of insolvent enterprises are resolved using these guarantees,” Kallaur explained. End

 

 

NBB allows banks to issue tokens with no possibility to receive cryptocurrency

 

MINSK, Jun 19 – PrimePress. In the course of the experiment to allow banks to issue token, they will not be able to receive cryptocurrencies, said Dmitri Nabzdorov, Head of the National Bank of Belarus’ Main Directorate for Regulation of Non-Credit Financial Organizations.

 

As previously reported on June 10, the National Bank of Belarus (NBB) proposes, as an experiment, to allow banks issuing and placing tokens and make other transactions (operations) with them in 2021-2024. This is provided for by a draft presidential ordinance formulated by the National Bank.

 

The draft is aimed at expanding the involvement of banks in the process of digital transformation of the economy. The right to issue and place tokens may be given to ASB Belarusbank JSC, Belagroprombank JSC, Bank Dabrabyt OJSC, Paritetbank OJSC, BPS-Sberbank OJSC, Belgazprombank OJSC, Belvnesheconombank OJSC, BTA Bank CJSC, BSB Bank CJSC, Bank Reshenie CJSC, RRB-Bank CJSC and Belarusian People’s Bank OJSC. End

 

 

Fitch places Belgazprombank’s ratings on negative watch on regulatory intervention

 

MINSK, Jun 19 – PrimePress. Fitch Ratings has placed Belgazprombank (BGPB) on Rating Watch Negative (RWN), including its Long-Term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) of ‘B’, Support Rating (SR) of ‘4’ and Viability Rating (VR) of ‘b’.

 

The rating actions follow the National Bank of Belarus (NBB) placing BGPB under temporary administration on 15 June 2020 (for a maximum six months) and the subsequent suspension of the bank’s management board.

 

The NBB has stated that these measures – which follow charges of money laundering and tax evasion brought by Belarus’s State Control Committee against the bank’s top managers – are aimed at ensuring the financial stability of the bank and protecting creditors’ and depositors’ interests.

 

There are currently no details available on possible measures to be taken by the temporary administration, and given the fluidity of the situation it is difficult to assess potential implications for the bank’s ownership, franchise and deposit stability. The associated uncertainties about the shareholders’ support stance and the impact on the bank’s standalone profile are captured by the RWN on the ratings.

 

Fitch expects to resolve the RWN once there is more clarity about the outcome of the investigations into the bank’s management and the results of the temporary administration, and the negative impact these may have on the bank’s credit profile. End

 

 

EBRD to provide $130m in credits for Belarusian affiliates of Sodrugestvo Group

 

MINSK, Jun 19 – PrimePress. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is arranging a US$130 million loan to Sodrugestvo Group (SG), an international agro-industrial conglomerate incorporated in Luxemburg and active throughout the EBRD regions, to boost cross-border cooperation and benefit local farmers, sourcing, transportation, processing and distribution of animal feed products. Support for existing clients is part of the EBRD’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

 

The EBRD financing will consist of an A-loan of up to US$ 85 million for the Bank’s own account and a B-loan of up to US$45 million, which may be syndicated to commercial banks.

 

Up to US$25 million will be channelled to Sodrugestvo Trans-Agro, the largest private owner of grain-hopper railcars in Belarus for the acquisition of 216 hoppers. The new hoppers will decrease SG’s reliance on cargo services provided by state-owned railway companies and strengthen its market position.

 

Up to US$55 million will be provided to Belagroterminal, the operator of a multi seeds crushing plant, for balance sheet restructuring and for the construction of a biomass boiler house at its principal manufacturing site in Smorgon, north-western Belarus.

 

The biomass boiler house will help reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by around 41,000 tonnes.

 

The remaining US$ 50 million will be provided to support working capital needs of Belagroterminal.

 

In the context of its development programme, supported by the EBRD, SG will aim to establish closer ties with rapeseed and soybean farmers in Belarus and neighbouring region. Guaranteed off-take arrangements will stimulate primary agriculture and will promote cross-border trade.

 

The EBRD expects the entirety of its investments of up to €21 billion in 2020-21 to be dedicated to the response to and the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

 

Founded in 1994, Sodrugestvo Group owns and operates the largest soybean processing complex in Europe and ranks among the top 20 soybean processors in the world.

Headquartered in Luxembourg, the company owns and operates production and port assets in Belarus, Brazil, Paraguay, Russia, and Turkey exporting manufactured and traded products to over 60 countries.

 

Since the start of its operations in Belarus in 1992, the EBRD has invested almost €2.9 billion in 134 projects in various sectors of the country’s economy. End

 

 

Friday forex session: ruble up 0.25% against dollar to Br2.3757/$1

 

MINSK, Jun 19 – PrimePress. Following the bidding at the single forex session of the Belarusian Currency and Stock Exchange (BCSE) in the format of a continuous two-way auction, the Belarusian ruble stood at Br2.3757/$1 to the dollar on June 19, up 0.25% on the previous day of trading, says the BCSE official report.

 

Following the bidding at the single forex session on Friday, the ruble stood at Br2.6654/€1 to the euro, up 0.47%; at Br3.4215/RUB100 to the Russian ruble, up 0.19%.

 

As previously reported, the National Bank of Belarus (NBB) on June 1, 2015 stopped the practice of fixing the exchange rate of the Belarusian ruble to the basket of foreign currencies on a day-to-day basis and switched over to FX trading on the Belarusian Currency and Stock Exchange (BCSE) in the format of a continuous two-way auction.

 

The parties taking part in continuous two-way auctions at the BCSE are free to make bids and offers during the entire auction period, however deals will be made if the FX trading system bridges bids with relevant offers.

 

The weighted average rate of the US dollar, the euro and the Russian ruble shall be the National Bank’s official exchange rate of the relevant currency for the day that follows the day of trading.

 

At the moment, the exchange rate of the Belarusian ruble is pegged to the basket of foreign currencies, with the share of the Russian ruble standing at 50%, the US dollar – 30%, the euro – 20%.